The Cubs entered play in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday in a do-or-die situation. In front of their home crowd for the final time this season, they were playing for their postseason lives.
They’ll live to fight another day.
Trevor Bauer looked dominant through the first three innings, racking up five strikeouts and surrendering just a single to Addison Russell and nothing more. He was dialed in and the Indians only needed him to get another six outs or so before turning the ball over to their dominant bullpen.
With one mighty swing of the bat leading off the fourth inning however, Kris Bryant changed the tide of the ballgame, and quite possibly the World Series. On a 1-1 pitch, Bryant lined one over the wall in left-center field to tie the game at 1-1, igniting the crowd at Wrigley Field and the Cubs’ offense.
Anthony Rizzo clubbed the next pitch for a double off the wall in right field and after getting ahead in the count 3-0, Ben Zobrist followed him with a single. Addison Russell then reached on an infield single to third base, scoring Rizzo with the go-ahead run.
After Jason Heyward went down swinging, Javier Baez dropped down a beautiful bunt for a base hit, loading the bases with one out. Rather than pinch-hitting with Kyle Schwarber, Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon opted to let David Ross bat in this critical situation and the veteran backstop responded with a sacrifice fly to left field that brought home Zobrist. That would stand as the winning run in the ballgame.
The Indians fought back in the sixth inning. Rajai Davis reached on a one-out single, swiped second base and scored on a two-out hit by Francisco Lindor. Lindor then attempted to steal second base himself, but David Ross made a perfect throw to Javier Baez to nail him on a very close play.
With a man on second base and one out in the seventh inning, Maddon made the decision that if the Cubs were going to lose the ballgame, they were going to do so with their best pitcher on the hill, summoning Aroldis Chapman from the bullpen.
Chapman recorded the final two outs in the seventh without much difficulty, aside from hitting Brandon Guyer with the first pitch of his at-bat. In the eighth inning, he had to contend with the speed of Rajai Davis. The veteran outfielder reached on an infield single with one out, a diving stop that Anthony Rizzo made at first base but Chapman had forgotten to cover the bag. Davis quickly stole second base before Jason Kipnis fouled out down the left field line. Davis then stole third base standing up, putting the tying run just 90 feet away with the Indians’ best hitter, Francisco Lindor, at the dish. Lindor never took the bat off of his shoulder, taking a called-third strike to end the threat.
It was much easier work in the ninth inning, as Chapman needed just 12 pitches to set down the Indians in order, preserving the one- run victory. In total, he threw 42 pitches over 2 2/3 innings of work, allowing just one hit and a hit batsman while striking out four.
On the other side of the diamond, the Indians’ lock-down bullpen delivered yet again, though they did their job without a lead to protect. Mike Clevinger, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen combined on four scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit and three walks while punching out seven.
Arrieta dominated the Indians in Cleveland in a Game 2 victory, allowing just one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. Despite that strong start though, he does own a 3.78 ERA through three postseason starts this year, showing some vulnerability.
Tomlin also pitched well in his first start in the series, scattering two hits and a walk over 4 2/3 scoreless frames in a no-decision in Game 3. He owns a stellar 1.76 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 11/3 K/BB ratio over 19 1/3 innings in the postseason. He’ll also have a fully-rested Danny Salazar and Andrew Miller ready in relief.
Quick Hits: Lonnie Chisenhall was held out of the starting lineup for Sunday’s Game 5 due to an illness. Brandon Guyer took his place, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout… Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins will be willing to listen to trade offers on Derek Dietrich and Adeiny Hechavarria (and perhaps even Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna) as they look to upgrade their rotation this offseason… Royals’ bench coach Don Wakamatsu will interview for the Diamondbacks’ and Rockies’ managerial openings… The Rangers are reportedly interested in re-signing impending free agent Carlos Gomez… According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Orioles are still debating on whether they’ll give Matt Wieters a qualifying offer… Mallex Smith was released by his Mexican Winter League team after hitting just .109 (5-for-46) in 12 games… The White Sox re-signed David Holmberg to a minor league contract.